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John Franzoni attends his first School Committee meeting on Thursday.

Clarksburg Welcomes New Superintendent Franzoni

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The School Committee welcomed new Superintendent John Franzoni at his first official meeting on Thursday.
 
"I would like to welcome the new superintendent with us today," Chairwoman Patricia Prenguber said. 
 
Franzoni, who was principal of Brayton Elementary School in North Adams, was hired in June to replace retiring superintendent Jon Lev.
 
"It is good to be here," Franzoni said.
 
Franzoni went into his first report and said the school has secured the $500,000 for the emergency roof replacement from the state and Town Administrator Carl McKinney said they now need to prepare to go out to bid.
 
"It's all set ... we are ready to go so we need to design that and write up some specs," McKinney said. "The sooner the better."
 
He added that they may want to look at potentially setting up the new roof to hold solar panels.
 
"I don't think that we have the technical expertise to run a solar facility but there are a couple of revenue options that may be available," he said. 
 
Franzoni added that they also plan to replace the school's boilers with $87,000 from the town's Green Communities Grant. 
 
He added that they are also looking at other building improvements such as more secure glass for the front of the building and an improved public address system. 
 
The school and town have been seeking alternative ways to make improvements to the 50-year-old building after town meeting emphatically rejected a $19 million renovation and addition project last year. The Massachusetts School Building Authority would have provided about $11 million of the cost but the tax impact for the remaining $7.7 million was more than most homeowners felt they could bear.
 
Franzoni was asked by Select Board Chairman Ronald Boucher if he has been in contact at all with the MSBA about possibly resubmitting an application.
 
Franzoni said he had a general conversation with MSBA officials and thought that it would be possible to submit a scaled-down design.
 
"They were very sympathetic to the needed repairs our building has and they said the information is still on file and it would not be a big deal to submit a revised proposal," he said. "They encouraged me to go back and talk to people in the town to see if this is something we want to revisit." 
 
Boucher said he thought it was important to see the project -- that voters shot down twice -- through and perhaps try to "sell it the right way" to the town.
 
Prenguber said she that thought they did sell it the right way and perhaps a new proposal that cost less than the originally proposed $19 million project would be easier for the town to accept.
 
"We did do it the right way we thought when we went for it, but I am sure there are options now that we need to look at," she said. 
 
Franzoni said he would gather more information and bring it up at a future School Committee meeting.
 
In Principal Tara Barnes' report, she said the first day of school will be Aug. 30 and faculty are busy getting the building ready. 
 
"Now we are cleaning the building and getting ready for the first day of school," she said. 
 
She added that the PTG is organizing an ice-cream social the Tuesday before the first day.
 
"We want to bring families here and have students visit their classrooms, so they can see where they are going," she said. "We want new students to connect with their classmates and teachers."
 
She said as of now the projected enrollment is 190 with the largest classroom size of 21.

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Clarksburg Officials Still Hoping for School Roof Money

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Town officials are still hoping to get funding to fix the roof at Clarksburg School. 
 
Chairman Ronald Boucher and Select Board member Danielle Luchi voted Wednesday night to send a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito requesting the visit the school to see the work being accomplished there. 
 
"I think they really need to see it firsthand," said Boucher. "I know Patrick Carnevale (director of the governor's Western Massachusetts office) came out and did his thing, but it's — he's not the person that you need to see this."
 
The town has been advocating for the governor's office to release an earmark for $500,000 that state Sen. Adam Hinds had placed in a capital spending bill nearly two years ago. The executive office has been reluctant to invest in the school since the town decisively defeated a $19 million addition and renovation project. The Massachusetts School Building Authority and the state Department of Education had determined that the 60-year-old structure does not meet contemporary educational needs.
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